Burnsville, NC – Once a year, musicians, historians and music fans gather in Burnsville to honor the legacy of Yancey County native and musician Lesley Riddle. This year’s RiddleFest takes place Saturday, June 30, with an afternoon seminar and evening concert.
Songstress Laura Boosinger and fiddler Josh Goforth headline the concert. Boosinger, an award-winning performer and recording artist who specializes in traditional Southern Appalachian music, is the executive director of the Madison County Arts Council. Goforth, a Madison County native, has earned the lofty title of master fiddler at Fiddler’s Grove.
The Griffith Chapel Singers will open the show with spirituals and gospel tunes, some gathered and written by Riddle. Ash Devine follows with traditional folk music and songs performed by the Carter Family, including the scratch guitar-playing style of Maybelle Carter.
The festival’s namesake, Lesley Riddle, traveled the Appalachian region with A.P. Carter in the 1920s on song-collecting trips. Carter gathered the lyrics, while Riddle learned the music. The Carter Family went on to record those songs and form the foundation of today’s country music, while the contributions by Riddle, an African-American, went overlooked for decades.
The seminar at Yancey County Library focuses on the “song catching” tradition of the early 1900s. Goforth will lead the discussion and musical demonstration. A free screening follows of a fictional movie about “song catching” in the Appalachian Mountains.“We are excited about this year’s song-catching theme,” says Ellen Denker, vice chair of Traditional Voices Group, which organizes RiddleFest. “We have two good Madison County musicians who have nurtured the old English ballads and The Griffith Chapel Singers and Ash Devine who are carrying on the songs caught by Riddle and Carter in the 1920s.”
The seminar begins at 2pm in the community room at the Yancey County Library. The seminar and movie screening are free. The concert begins at 7pm at Burnsville Town Center.Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door or online.
For RiddleFest info and tickets: www.TraditionalVoicesGroup.com/RiddleFest-2018/.
Laura Boosinger and Josh Goforth